Thursday, July 24, 2003
Carmel on the Case: Pet Shop Peril
Tonight, Carmel kicks off a series of investigations. In this package, she looks at a pet store in Kendall facing nearly twenty thousand dollars in fines. It is accused of selling sick animals, selling animals without the proper paperwork, and harboring animals in an unsafe enviroment.
"Aw - this one is really in bad shape..."
Palm Beach County Animal Control Officials say all needed medical care.
"All of the animals were covered with ticks and fleas," saysDianne Sauve of Palm Beach Animal Control. "All of the animals suffered from erlichia, which is a tick borne disease."
It was February when authorities called the Puppy Land Kennel a "puppy mill" and seized every dog.
Investigators suspect puppies born here were sold in Miami-Dade because the owner of this kennel also owns a South Florida pet store.
"Yes, a lot of the animals we did get had been bred repeatedly. So where those puppies went is probably down to Miami," saysTammie Crawford Palm Beach Cruelty Coordinator.
59-year-old Karina Pubchara owns the kennel and this Kendall pet shop - Pet World.
She denies she used the kennel to supply puppies for the shop.
And she says conditions at the Palm Beach facility were not all that bad.
She says, "They were not in bad condition."
Carmel asks, "It wasn't filthy?"
Pubchararesponds, "No, it wasn't filthy."
But Seven News has learned Pubchara has problems in Miami-Dade County, too.
Our investigation has revealed Pet World owes more than thirteen thousand dollars in fines for repeated failure to provide certificates of veterinary inspection...And for failure to microchip pets prior to sale.
"That tells me the law has no teeth."
Captain Carlos Vasquez is the new director of Animal Control.
"I absolutely believe that these people obviously don't care about the law and obviously haven't made any effort to conform to it," says Captain Carlos Vasquez, Miami-Dade Animal Control.
After our questions, Vasquez organized an inspection of Pet World.
Pubchara never showed up that day, so her employee Maria Suero ended up charged with a criminal violation when it was learned the store's occupational license expired - back in January.
Inspectors also found this puppy caught his foot in the bottom of the cage and got free on his own.
Another puppy was stuck in a cage that had broken wires at the bottom.
And this dog - apparently old and blind in one eye - suffers from a skin condition. She's so thin, her spine sticks out.
Captain Vasquez says, "Basically we found some situations here where they violated the law and there were some deplorable situations with the animals,"
Another 68 hundred dollars in citations were issued - bringing the grand total owed to nineteen thousand nine hundred thirty dollars.
Karina Pubcharaof Pet World/Puppy Land says, "I don't have the money to pay."
Carmel asks, "Then why don't you follow the law?"
Pubchara says, "I do, I do. You know I do."
But I don't.
And there's more.
The Perez family is one of many Pet World customers who say they were sold sick puppies.
Zeida Perezsays, "I paid money for a pet that is not, does not have papers. Is sick. He looks healthy but he still has diarrhea with blood."
Zeida Perez says her daughter prays every night that her puppy doesn't die.
At the Better Business Bureau, the president says multiple consumer complaints about sick pet world puppies - have been ignored.
"There's heartbreak in every one of these complaints."
Brodie White says the BBB has received 13 complaints in the last 36 months.Carmel asks, "Is that a lot?
White says, "That is an extremely large amount of complaints in this particular industry."
Carmel asks, "What do you have to say about all the complaints and fines against your businesses?"
Karina Pubchara answers, "I have nothing to say Carmel."
So far, Karina Pubchara has managed to get by ignoring fines and citations and complaints.
But in Palm Beach County, officials say animal abuse charges may be filed as a result of conditions at the kennel. And criminal charges would be very hard to ignore.
If there's a situation you think Carmel should investigate - give her a call at 305-627-CLUE in Miami-Dade or 954-921-CLUE in Broward.
In South Florida, several pet shops use the name Pet World. The store that is the subject of this story is located on Sunset Drive in Kendall.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Miami Dade Animal Control
Better Business Bureau